There is a very early revealing scene in the new God of War at the end of an exhausting battle sequence that ends with Kratos and his young son Atreus defeating a massive troll.
Dad has done most of the work, with the arrows fired from the bow of Atreus that only contribute to a little damage to the giant beast from a safe distance. But after the troll dies, Atreus, full of prepubescent rage, runs close to him and begins to cut the corpse with his knife, blindly cutting his flesh, shouting "You are nothing to me!"
It's a hard callback until the last time we saw Kratos – in the chronology of the series, that is – at the end of 2010 God of War III full of the same kind of anger , mercilessly hammering the face of his father Zeus, who did not stop even after he was dead. Kratos takes his son out of the troll. You're not ready says Atreus. And with that, we understand Kratos, the father, and the fear that motivates him: he does not want his son to grow up to become him.
On April 20, Sony will launch God of War which in turn serves as a sequel to the long-awaited story, and a much needed restart of the franchise. Despite how innovative the original series was, it was definitely becoming obsolete. This new version of the adventures of Kratos is happy to slaughter the sacred cows of the series as carelessly and as thoroughly as its protagonist once murdered the entire Greek pantheon.
This new God of War is an excellent game, lovingly designed and engaging throughout the process. But a lot has changed. It's not just the drastically renewed combat, with its angle over the shoulder and its emphasis on evasion. It is also the story and the way that story tells, with an emphasis on family relationships and quiet and discreet moments.
The most fundamental, and immediately noticeable, change is to the game camera. The original series was defined by its automatic camera angles, which were carefully placed by game designers to always frame the action of the game in a specific way. What this meant in practice was that any scene in the game, regardless of the intensity of the action, could be shown from a dramatic and exciting angle, often receding to show the scale of the object (or monster or god) that Kratos , the size of termites, ran, climbed or cut the blades of his chain.
The approach was so impressive at the time that I really thought that many more games would be adopted as a technique, and I was surprised over time, as few really did. In the new God of War this characteristic aspect no longer exists: the camera is placed on the right shoulder of Kratos, and you control it (and therefore its position) with the right stick, like so many others third-Action games for people.
While this works well to allow for a more deliberate, less arcade combat style, it also undermines the ability of the series to show that kind of cinematic spectacle, replacing it with something that looks much more like many other triple-A's. third-person action games. The environments, although they are always technically beautiful and, at times, artistically inspired, are now built with caves, corridors, forests and the like quite simple, with many fewer times when you are climbing the top of a 100-foot tall Titan . The camera can be removed occasionally when one of those mandatory moments occurs, but it is only a slight change.
When Kratos leaves home, with Atreus on his back, he carries with him not his distinctive chain swords, but Leviathan. Ax, which can be used to attack nearby enemies or throw enemies that are farther away. Here is the wrinkle: the ax does not return automatically, like a boomerang. You will have to press another button to retrieve the ax from which you fell (or, more likely, you stayed), and also hit the enemies on your return flight.
You are not helpless if you throw away the ax and do not remember it immediately. Kratos will simply switch to a fighting style with bare hands, using his fists and shield to hit enemies. The hits and kicks do not make so many tics in the health bar of an enemy, but they accumulate their stunning meter more quickly. Fill it in and you'll get the old QTE indicator icon that says you can destroy it really well and like a movie with the push of a button. Sometimes, with certain types of enemies, you are forced to stun instead of directly damaging them, but not often; In general, you can choose how to fight.
And then there's Atreus, always by your side. Do not control it directly; instead, you have a dedicated Atreus button that you press to fire an arrow at the enemy you're targeting. At first it is difficult to remember that you have this option, while you concentrate on dodging and swinging your ax. But it is important to remember that Atreus must always be firing.
In the beginning, his arrows do very little damage and serve mainly to distract the enemies and direct their eyes towards him instead of towards Kratos. (Atreus can not die and there are no escort missions, hallelujah). But later in the game, as your weapons and abilities level up, Atreus will be able to eliminate small enemies on his own, he can only fill the enemy. Stun the meter and do significant damage to the bosses.
From the first moment, the game offers a unique and quite funny combat style that you must learn. And the game does not waste time forcing you to learn it: you get into pretty tough fights from the start, often against a variety of different types of enemies; There may be some small flying enemies that force you to throw your ax while dodging others on the ground, or medium-sized types with slow but uncontrollable heavy attacks that you must avoid while shredding the weakest and fastest. (There are even some optional enemy encounters, reminiscent of the Talus fights of Breath of the Wild that peacefully wander until you face). You will quickly face several hard enemies at the same time, and I will not be able to get through them by crushing the square button in blind fury. You will have to learn to dodge, anticipate, take advantage of openings and work the crowd.
At first, I thought that I would have to lower the difficulty level from Normal to Easy just to go through the game, but it turned out not to be necessary. In part, that was because I was learning about how the game worked, but it was also because I was able to start tackling side missions that allowed me to improve my skills and my team.
God of War feels initially rigidly linear. During the first hours, you are confined to a series of corridors and small open areas linked one after the other. But finally it becomes apparent that the game started you on the other side of one of the centers. When you get to the center, things open up. No, the game does not turn into The Witcher 3 or anything, but maybe it's like Witcher Lite : you can walk around, tackle side quests, find chests, solve riddles and punch more enemies to gain more experience points, all without advancing in history.
As the game progresses, more and more secondary things open up, although sometimes, when you decide to continue in the main story, you can not go back. to the center for a while. It is not a completely open world, but that dew of nonlinearity still makes the experience richer, even if it takes the game a few more restrictive hours before it fully reveals itself. Those carefully controlled hours, however, are necessary to begin telling the story of the game.
When God of War begins, we find Kratos who just wants to be left alone. He fled Olympus and moved to Midgard, he met a nice girl, he sat down, he had a son. He is not interested in killing anyone, he does not have elaborate revenge plots to enact. When his wife dies (apparently from natural causes), he is not full of Spartan Rage ™, he just wants to fulfill his final wishes by spreading his ashes from the highest peak in the realms.
Unfortunately, destiny is not treated for that to happen, and it is tracked down and assaulted by entities that, by surprise, reveal themselves as gods of Norse mythology. A completely new pantheon to cut and cut? Kratos is not tempted. He just wants to bury his wife and raise his son and avoid difficult questions like, say, dad, what are those scars on the forearms ? He does not want to get entangled with the Aesir, the Vanir or any Norse god at all, wants to reach his destination and go home.
We collect a lot of this through their silence, as well as their restricted body language. . Even though he is the new and sensitive Kratos of the 90s, in touch with his own feelings, he is not ready to open up and share them with Atreus. Much of the initial exposure of the story takes place during parent-child conversations between battles rather than through directed cinematic scenes. Kratos is eternally somber and serious, but Atreus, like a typical elementary student, likes to break his wise father. If you think that what God of War really needed from the beginning was an intelligent partner who made fun of Kratos, well, I have a game for you.
In addition to his growing abilities with a bow, Atreus also has a supernatural gift for languages; he can read all the runes recorded all over the world, while his father does not. This is ironic to the extent that while playing, I wished I could sit my own child at the foot of the TV so he could read me the damn menu text. I do not know if all the staff of God of War performed some kind of Super Lasik surgery as a team bonding exercise or what, but the text in the menus of this game is too small for you to read it while I'm sitting 8 feet away from a 42-inch TV.
This would not be a big problem if it were not for the fact that God of War constantly sends it to their menus. While you are adventuring, you start to be loaded with things. Breastplate. Wrist Armor Waist Armor Heavy Runes Light Runes Charms Emblems. A dozen consumable resources used to update those things. And beyond that, there is also a skill tree in which you are constantly pouring your experience points.
In an effort to offer you many options on how to dress Kratos, the game pulls tons of individual armor and upgrades you in a quick clip. At first, finding chests in the world (or solving riddles to unlock larger chests) is always fun, but it was not long before the additional utility I got when I opened the chest n to almost zero. I do not want to stop God of War every five minutes to read several paragraphs of explanatory text, even if was big enough to see.
That said, while you do not really need 90 percent of the things the game loads you to go through the main story, I can see how finding all these bits, updating them and using them effectively can be important if you want to erase the whole game. When you finish the story of Kratos and Atreus, it is likely that there is still much more to be done. There are two entire areas of the game that do not need to be visited to complete the story, and many more sidequests are scattered around the map once you finish.
I have not done everything, but with 20 hours invested in the main story (it's quite big), it seems that there are another 20, easily. I feel that the game attracts me, even though I have seen all the great revelations, because the combat is very funny and the interstitial conversations are very funny.
As a well-known lover of puzzles, I am happy that God of War is full of them again. One of the main selling points of the first game was its combination of action and riddles, but the latter was constantly reduced as the series evolved, delegate, if you ask me. While you do not need to solve many riddles to complete the story, there are many optional ones, which generally revolve around the careful search of any scene in which you find to find hidden runes that unlock chests. The critical riddles of the story that do exist are very generously insinuated, but the optional ones simply leave you to your own devices.
This creates a very balanced rhythm in the procedures. Not only are you cutting, cutting, cutting without interruptions. Often, you go through a great battle to discover that now you can explore the world around you, find secrets, try your brain cells a bit.
Hey, do you want to feel as old as Kratos? It's been more than 13 years since the first God of War for PlayStation 2 was released. Between its brutal and beautiful combat, its unique and dramatic story, and its innovative camera work, that debut was like nothing I'm d ever played before. It was an entity in itself. 2018 God of War seems happier to borrow from other recent hit games: it's a bit Witcher a bit Dark Souls a bit The Last Of Us and a bit of the old school God of War . He feels more trendsetter than a trendsetter, a pastiche of ideas. But they are good ideas, made well enough to bring back a series once past the depths of Helheim.